.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

The NFL Lacks Identity

-A A +A
By Denton Day

   

For the first time in recent memory the NFL is in foreign territory, neck deep in water and struggling to keep its head above. The NFL has no identity.
 

The league has become the unfortunate personification of Spongebob when he lost his name tag and then proceeded to lose his mind because it meant he had no identity.
    

That is the current state of the NFL, although it’s handling it a tad better than Mr. Squarepants did, in the public eye at least.
    

Childhood cartoon references aside, this is beginning to become a serious issue for “America’s Game.” For all of my life, the NFL has unequivocally been the biggest sport in America, so much so that it literally has taken over Sunday.
    

Injuries, poor officiating and general confusion have caused the league to have absolutely zero, consistent identity.
  

But now the ratings are declining and mass interest is quickly starting to fade.
    

There are a couple reasons for this and it stems from the higher ups, aka Roger Goodell.
    

The league is desperately trying to turn public opinion away from the idea that the NFL is dangerous. They are struggling with this because–spoiler alert–the NFL is very dangerous.
    

This past week was a very interesting week for the NFL, not in a good way. The New England Patriots took on AFC East rival in a road game against the Buffalo Bills.
    

To the surprise of absolutely nobody the Patriots won. The bigger story, however, came from beloved Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
  

With 4:50 left to play in the game Bills’ rookie Tre’Davious White intercepted Tom Brady. White took the ball out of bounds and was laying on the ground when Gronk came flying in with a shoulder, clothesline combination straight out of a WWE ring, and hit White.
    

The play was dirty and uncharacteristic from Gronk, he was flagged but not ejected. Following the game officials acknowledged that Gronk should have been ejected–great timing guys.
    

A one-game suspension has been handed out to Gronk for his actions. Meanwhile, White will likely miss at least a week as well because he was concussed on that play.
    

For a league that claims to be all about player safety, especially when it comes to hits and injuries above the shoulders, a one game suspension seems a little weak. Actually it seems incredibly weak.
    

The phrase “actions speak louder than words,” is being put on full display here. Clearly the NFL does not care about head injuries as much as they say they do. A clearly dirty play that results in a concussion should be a four-game suspension at least.
    

This is another decision that has been botched by Goodell in glorious fashion. Which again causes major issues for the identity of the league.
    

I understand that it is impossible to rid the game of concussions. There are too many collisions in the game to get rid of them.
    

And let’s face facts, there is a very small percentage of America that watches football for the tactical aspect of the game. When you turn a primetime game on that your team is not playing in you do not want to see psychological warfare between two coaches. You want to see someone get crushed over the middle.
    

Yes, these guys are professional athletes that, generally, are not built like us normal people. But they’re still humans and those big shots take a toll on their body and more importantly their head.
    

But, they’re millionaires. Who cares how many concussions they get, they get paid to play a game, right?
    

Wrong. Yes they’re millionaires but last time I checked you cannot buy a new brain.
    

If the Gronk ordeal was not enough, on Monday Night Football, in front of a worldwide audience Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier nearly paralyzed himself.
    

Shazier made nearly a picture perfect tackle with one slight mistake.
    

His neck dipped and he made head to hip contact and could not move his lower body. The neck dip was not on purpose it was simply a case of momentum and the speed of the game causing him to lower his head. That should terrify everyone.
    

On top of all the injury concerns the NFL still has football related issues to fix that is has just brushed to the side.
    

More than ever it seems like the officials do not know the rules of the game. Several times this year officials have butchered calls that have cost teams games.
    

A couple days later there will generally be a long-winded apology essentially saying, “The team that lost probably should have won but we messed up a call. Sorry about that, but the result still stands.”
    

The officials are human and they are allowed to make mistakes. So that happening once is understandable. When it becomes a consistent thing it is a real problem that shows lack of effort and attention to detail of the rules. That is where we are currently at.
    

Three years after the Cowboys vs. Packers divisional playoff game effectively known by the simple question of, “Did Dez catch it?” the NFL still has no idea what a catch is.
    

Good thing Goodell is in charge. I’m 100 percent positive he can make the necessary changes to preserve the safety of the game and the integrity of the officials!
 

(The NFL is in serious trouble)

@Denton_Day
sports@bedfordbulletin.com